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What if the worst happens? (DW#370)

I know that we have been talking about affair-proofing our relationships. But what if your worst nightmare has already come to pass? What if you are in the midst of the catastrophic discovery that your marriage has been shaken to its core because of an affair?

The first question that couples going through this trauma ask is: Can our marriage be saved? Can we rebuild trust to the point where we can live with each other again?

I will not lie to you: affairs destroy marriages (not to mention the sense of self of those who are betrayed). And that is why we have been talking about prevention. 

It’s far far better and much much easier to address these issues before a storm hits. Talking about what draws us outside our boundaries, in an atmosphere of trust, can actually foster intimacy and commitment. But for many couples, unfortunately, the crisis of an affair is the first time they talk about any of what we have been discussing. 

Catastrophe, explains Esther Perel, has a way...

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Boundaries online (DW#359)

In the age of digital technology, giving in to temptation is only a click away. 

On social media, for example, it is easy to track down old friendships that may have meant something in the past. Or you may encounter someone who appears to have the same interests as yourself, who likes the same things, responds to your actions on social media. You find yourself looking for them and their interactions when you are online. Their engagement and reactions to your postings begin to mean something to you. 

Even if you realize that you are in close call territory at this point, the nature of social media interaction is such that you find yourself unable to stop. You are faced with the choice of stopping it or hiding it. In such situations, hiding it usually wins. You convince yourself that you are not doing anything wrong. That no one is being harmed. 

At times like this we need to remind ourselves that the above thought process itself is a sign that we are on the threshold of...

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Emotional boundaries (DW#358)

All of us crave to be seen, known and understood. We benefit from having relationships where we can share our hopes, dreams and fears, occasionally vent our emotions and also seek advice. When we allow ourselves to be known in this way, it creates vulnerability and a deep emotional bond. 

It can be difficult for one person (our spouse) to meet all of our emotional and friendship needs, and both men and women benefit from having good friends outside our marital relationships. 

Having said that, sharing such an emotional bond with a member of the opposite sex leads us into a big danger zone. Confiding in the opposite sex opens doors to emotional bonds that can easily turn others into more than "just friends". 

As Shirley Glass explains, "The new infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing that they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love. Eighty-two percent of the unfaithful partners...

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The kinds of walls we need (DW#357)

Yesterday we started exploring the metaphor of building walls around our relationship to keep it secure. Now let’s take this concept a little deeper and discover the different kinds of walls that we need.

Mental walls

Keeping a mental boundary means that we become aware of where our attention is. While our thoughts can wander into danger zones, we need not let them dwell there. If we become masters of our attention, we can protect our relationship by not letting our fantasies run away with our better judgment. A stray thought can be quashed right at the beginning which will prevent repeated thoughts turning into actions. 

Mental boundaries can also involve intentionally thinking positive thoughts about our spouses when we are away from them and reminding ourselves of our commitment, especially when we encounter temptation.

Physical walls

These involve practical ways in which you can avoid slipping. Physical boundaries come in many different forms.

Being alone
Avoiding spending...

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Build walls (DW#356)

Not "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley Glass is a classic and very helpful resource for couples attempting recovery from the ravages of infidelity.

In this book, Shirley Glass uses the metaphor of "walls and windows" to explain how a marriage slides from security to vulnerability. Let us stay with this metaphor for a few days to try and understand what puts a relationship at risk.

When we get married and form a new family, it is creating a new entity, an entity which needs to be safeguarded from outside influences and threats to the relationship. 

 
Healthy couples therefore create boundaries by constructing a metaphorical "wall" between them and the many forces that could damage the relationship. It’s not a wall that shuts the world out, but a necessary safety buffer. On one side, protected, is "us" and what is sacred between "us", and on the other side of the wall is anything that could hurt "us."
 
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Think loving thoughts (DW#346)

Today’s OTL can be done all on your own.

The practice is to intentionally think positive thoughts about your loved one when they are not present with you.

It is clear that how and what we think about has an impact on our relationships because it ends up influencing the way we act and the way we talk to them.

When we intentionally bring to mind something we like about our loved ones, some kindness or love that they have shown us or some pleasant interaction that we may have had in the past, it allows our heart to soften and we can act in loving ways when we do see them.
So go ahead. Set a reminder if you have to.

Think loving thoughts and hold the thoughts for at least 15 seconds. (This is the time it takes for a thought to begin to change our brain chemistry)

Soften and allow yourself to smile at the memory or the thought.
Repeat often for best results :)

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The biology of love is momentary (DW#339)

As we have been saying, when two or more people are sharing micro-moments of connection, it creates a back-forth exchange of warmth and positive energy that sustains itself and can grow stronger with each exchange.

The positive energy or "positivity resonance" (aka love), however, only lasts as long as the connection. When the connection wanes, so does this resonance or biological love response.

This is of course inevitable, because it is how emotions work. They come and they go.

In order to sustain these feelings and the positive energy they generate, we need to keep finding OTLs and keep practicing these gestures to create these micro-moments of connection.

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Turning me into we (DW#335)

Have you noticed that when we are feeling negative unpleasant emotions such as anger, anxiety or fear, we feel quite alone and distant from other human beings?

When our bodies and brains are experiencing such emotions, they are designed to contract. In other words, we develop tunnel vision and cannot see anything or anyone except our own pain and our own problems. In fact, the problems in our life appear large and crowd out anything except the pain.

When we have a headache, for example, do we notice anything anything but the headache? Do we notice that our knees, stomach or feet are fine? Not really. The headache becomes the focus of our life. The headache expands to push everything else out of our awareness.

On the other hand, when we are experiencing pleasant emotions such as gratitude or joy, our focus widens beyond ourselves. When we are feeling positive emotions, we can include others in our field of awareness. Our awareness expands from our habitual focus on "me" to a more...

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Get in motion (DW#319)

Do you remember Newton’s First Law of Motion?

"An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by some outside force."

This is also known as the law of inertia or the law of momentum.

How does it apply to us with regards to goal setting?

Well, some of us have a hard time getting started towards our goals. We have a case of ‘paralysis by analysis’. We think and think and think and think without taking any action. We plan and think of obstacles and do ALL of that.

And we get the booby prize for goal setting. The prize for knowing the most theory and having the most knowledge (please do not ask me how I know this)

There is however, no actual change in our lives. Oooops!

Life, in turns out, only rewards actual effort. And movement.

Here’s the good news though. Once we take that first step, we are in action and then Newton’s law kicks in. The moment we take a little bit...

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Are you setting goals that you think you should? (DW#315)

Are you setting goals or making resolutions because you "think you should"? Or because others think you should?

If so, these goals are not very likely to be achieved.

Here is what some experts said in the Journal of Personality: "When goal pursuit is fueled by personal endorsement and valuing of the goal, commitment and persistence will be high. In contrast, when goal pursuit is the outcome of pressures or external contingencies, goal attainment will be comparatively less likely."

So instead of setting goals that others think you should, or that you think you should, just pause for a moment and ask yourself: if you did were not scared, doubtful or anxious, what would you like to achieve this year? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you go for? What is your heart longing to achieve?

Write that down. Those are goals that are likely to have meaning for you and are aligned with your life purpose.

Setting goals like these are likely to help you realize your full potential....

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